Special Honours: 1950-59

18th November 1952In terms of the numbers of clubs which won a major competition, the 1950s was in a league of its own. 11 different sides got their name on one of the three major trophies;-

Season        League         Scottish Cup            League Cup

1950-51           Hibs                 Celtic                           Motherwell

1951-52           Hibs                 Motherwell                 Dundee

1952-53           Rangers          Rangers                       Dundee

1953-54           Celtic               Celtic                            East Fife

1954-55           Aberdeen        Clyde                            Hearts

1955-56           Rangers           Hearts                          Aberdeen

1956-57           Rangers           Falkirk                         Celtic

1957-58           Hearts              Hearts                         Celtic

1958-59           Rangers           St Mirren                    Hearts

1959-60           Hearts              Rangers                      Hearts

As we can see from the table, there were two Scottish Cup wins for Celtic, in 1951 and 1954; in the latter season of 1953-54, the League was also collected; while after 10 years of trying, Celtic won the League Cup in successive seasons – 1956-57 and 1957-58 – the latter final, at Hampden on 19th October 1957, becoming one of the most famous moments in the club’s history, as Rangers were thrashed  7-1.

There were also successes in two of the ‘one-of’ trophies, the first of which occurred in the summer of 1951.


The St Mungo Cup

In the summer of 1951, Celtic had travelled across the Atlantic to New York from Southampton on board the Queen Mary for the club’s second tour of North America. Between 20th May and 20th June, nine matches were played – in New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Detroit, New Jersey and Montreal – of which seven were won, one drawn and one lost.

The touring party arrived back on 29th June and by mid-July the players were aback at training, as the season would start with a new trophy, the St Mungo Cup, a combined effort between Glasgow Corporation and the Scottish Football Association as their contribution to the Festival of Britain. All 16 First Division clubs took part.


14th July 1951 First Round

Celtic 2 Hearts 1 (51,000)

Scorers; McPhail, Walsh


19th July 1951 Second Round

Celtic 4 Clyde 4 (29,000)

Scorers; Collins (2; 1 pen), Walsh and McPhail


20th July 1951 Second Round Replay

Celtic 4 Clyde 1 (29,000)

Scorers; Fallon (2), Peacock and Walsh


28th July 1951 Semi-final Hampden

Celtic 3 Raith Rovers 1 (48,000)

Scorers; Walsh (3)


1st August 1951 Final

Hampden   81,000

The final turned to be an excellent contest. Aberdeen took the lead in 14 minutes and Celtic keeper George Hunter was injured after colliding with a post when trying to save the shot. He went off for 10 minutes and Bobby Evans took over in goal. In 35 minutes, the Dons went two-up, the goal ironically scored by ex-Celt Tommy Bogan.

Celtic pulled one back before the interval through Sean Fallon and then dominated the second half. Within five minutes, a great run and fine pass by Jimmy Walsh gave Fallon the chance to score his second with a strong drive and Walsh soon got the third after good work by Charlie Tully.

Celtic 3 Aberdeen 2


So Celtic collected another of the ‘one-of’ trophies which were their speciality and this one looked good. It was a heavy silver cup, embellished by the Glasgow coat-of-arms, with salmon masquerading as handles. Unfortunately, one of these handles came off, when handled by a Celtic official and after some investigation, the truth came out. The trophy was a second-hand one, originally a yachting award in 1894 and hastily re-fashioned for the competition in 1951. The affair caused some correspondence between the Celtic chairman and Glasgow’s Lord Provost, some of it aired in the pages of the Glasgow Herald. Nothing came of it, however, and the St Mungo Cup still adorns the Boardroom at Celtic Park.

Two years later, Celtic were involved in another special tournament, but meanwhile;

Report from the Evening Times 19th November 1952.

‘In the floodlight game last night, Doncaster Rovers beat Celtic 3-2 and it was significant that on a squally November night, the crowd of 14,841 was nearly 4,000 more than Doncaster’s previous home match. Doncaster put much of their new-found fire into the game and lifted it above the ordinary friendly match. They obtained a two-goal lead before the interval through their brilliant inside-forward Lawlor. Walsh, before the interval, and Peacock afterwards scored for Celtic but Tindall headed the Rovers’ winner.

Celtic would probably concede that Doncaster’s extra speed and enterprise earned them a win. Wing-halves Evans and Baillie played attractive, accurate football in support of their forwards while the backs, Boden and Fallon, played the right tactics, positioning skillfully.

Celtic impressed with their painstaking, constructive and methodical teamwork. All that was lacking was a little fire.

Lessons to be drawn from this game are that floodlight football has a future and that players and crowd alike regard these games as something out of the run of ordinary friendlies’.
NB Celtic played their first-ever match under floodlight in the 20th century  – there had been an attempt to play under pretty embryonic lighting in 1893 at Celtic Park – on the North American tour of 1931, when they met a Michigan X1 at Detroit. This match in Doncaster was the first time they had played under floodlights in Britain.

Coronation Cup

To commemorate the year of the Coronation in 1953, the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish League, together with the Football Association and the English League, put up a special Coronation Cup for competition between teams representing the two countries. Eight sides were chosen in total, with the matches to be played at Ibrox and Hampden.

Not since the Empire Exhibition Trophy of 1938 had there been a chance for one team to be crowned cup Kings of Britain and the fans were suitably excited. Charity was also to benefit. In each match, the two clubs involved would split 50% of the gate money after expenses had been deducted while the remaining 50% would be divided among charities like the King George V1 Memorial Fund, the National Playing Fields Association and the Central Council of Physical Education.

The English representation was a strong one. Newcastle United, FA cup winners in 1952; Arsenal, League Champions in 1953; Manchester United, League Champions in 1952 and Tottenham Hotspur, runners-up in the same competition.

The Scots were represented by Hibs, League Champions in 1951-52; Rangers, just about to complete the League/Scottish Cup double that season; Aberdeen, finalists in the Scottish Cup in 1953; and Celtic.

The inclusion of Celtic was something of a surprise, especially to supporters of clubs like Hearts, Clyde, St Mirren and Dundee, who had all finished ahead of Celtic in the league campaign of that season. However, the organisers of the competition were well aware of the size of the Celtic support and how it would turn out in numbers to cheer on their side. So, Celtic it was and indeed, the Green-and-Whites took part in the opening match;-


11th May 1953

Celtic 1 Arsenal 0 (59,538) Hampden

Scorer Collins


11th May 1953

Hibs 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1   (43,000) Ibrox


12th May 1953

Hibs 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (13,000) Ibrox


13th May 1953

Rangers 1 Manchester United 2   (75,000) Hampden


13th May 1953

Aberdeen 0 Newcastle United 4 10,000 Ibrox


16th May 1953   Semi-Final

Celtic 2 Manchester United 1   73,466   Hampden

Scorers; Peacock, Mochan


16th May 1953 Semi-Final

Hibs 4 Newcastle United 0   35,000 Ibrox


The Coronation Cup final was played on 20th May 1953 and was eagerly anticipated by press and fans alike. Heavy rain fell on the dry Hampden pitch the day before the match, making the conditions well-nigh perfect on the night. Hibs were at full strength and favourites for the trophy. The forward line was well known as the Famous Five and more than compensated for an uncertain defence. Celtic were without Charlie Tully, injured in the last minute of the semi-final and Willie Fernie was drafted in as replacement.

The full Celtic team was John Bonnar, Mike Haughney, Alec Rollo, Bobby Evans, Jock Stein, John McPhail, Bobby Collins, Jimmy Walsh, Neil Mochan, Bertie Peacock and Willie Fernie.

It was a pleasant summer evening at Hampden and the crowd – given as 117,060 but with many more locked out of the ground as the east terracing was becoming dangerously over-loaded – saw a splendid match.

Celtic dominated the first half yet had only one goal to show for all their attacking efforts, a truly spectacular shot from all of 30 yards by Neil Mochan which beat Tommy Younger high up at his right-hand post.

Hibs dominated the second half but John Bonnar rose to the challenge, making several saves bordering on the miraculous as he kept out probably the most celebrated forward line in Britain. Near the end Jimmy Walsh added a second for Celtic and the match ended in a win for the Glasgow part of Scotland’s green-and-whites.

Celtic   2   Hibs 0


In the last few years of the 1950s, some well-known names left Celtic Park. In November 1957, Jim Sharkey was transferred to Airdrie; at the end of season 1957-58, John Bonnar and Mike Haughney were freed.

Just before the start of season 1958-59, Billy McPhail was forced to give up the game through injury. In September 1959, Bobby Collins joined Everton for a fee of £25,000 and Willie Fernie moved to Middlesbrough for £17,500; while at the end of season 1958-59, the club freed John Higgins, Frank Meechan and John Jack.


At the beginning of season 1959/60, Dick Beattie moved to Portsmouth; in October Charlie Tully joined Cork Hibs as manager. On 25th November, Matt McVittie was transferred to St Johnstone; on 11th May 1960, Eric Smith joined Leeds United for £11,000 and only nine days later, Bobby Evans travelled south to join Chelsea.

However, in the light of what was to come in the years ahead, possibly the most important move of this period occurred on 13th March 1960 when, after nearly three years in charge of the reserves and youngsters at Celtic Park, Jock Stein took over as manager of Dunfermline.


Special Moments

1          In season 1950-51, the sum of £100,000 was won on the pools for the first time.


2          The 4th World Cup is held in Brazil in 1950, with 13 teams involved, including Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Spain, England, Sweden and Italy from Europe. Uruguay beat Brazil in the final, watched by an astonishing 199,854.


3          The Football Association refused to allow clubs to use floodlights but clubs began to experiment with them anyway, particularly Arsenal, who played friendlies against an Israeli side and Rangers.


4          On 21st February 1953, Charlie Tully scored direct from a corner in a cup tie against Falkirk. The kick had to be re-taken as the crowd had encroached on to the pitch, so Tully repeated the feat.


5          On August 10th 1953, a match was played at Celtic Park between Celtic and a Bohemians Select, the proceeds of which went to the Willie Maley Testimonial Fund. Unfortunately for the visitors, Celtic won 10-1.


6          The 5th World Cup finals took place in Switzerland, with 16 teams taking part, including Scotland and England. Hungary were the strong favourites but in the final, the West Germans sprung a surprise with a 3-2 victory.


7          During those World Cup finals in Switzerland, a meeting of the European countries resulted in UEFA being formed.


8          In 1954, Jimmy Delaney won a cup winners’ medal with Derry City, adding to the ones he collected with Celtic in 1937 and Manchester United in 1948.


9          In season 1955-56, the Home International Championship finished in a 4-way tie for the first time, all the teams having three points.


10        In 1958, the 6th World Cup Finals were held in Sweden. 16 teams took part, including all four British Nations, Brazil and Sweden fought their way through to the final, where the South Americans proved too strong, their young forward called Pele making a name for himself with a hat-trick.


Special Non-football Moments

1950    Petrol rationing ends in Britain

1951    First Miss World competition takes place

1952    John Cobb, land speed record holder, is killed on Loch Ness.

1953    Death of Joseph Stalin, premier of USSR.

1954    Roger Bannister becomes the first athlete to run a mile in under four minutes.

1955    3 cars crash during the Le Mans 24-hour race and plough into the spectators’ grandstand, killing 80.

1956    American-Irish actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.

1957    The EEC is formed by the Treaty of Rome.

1958    Alaska becomes 49th state of the USA.

1959    Death of US singer Buddy Holly.